MYKOLAIV OBLAST – On the front line south of the Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, a 40-year-old combat medic nicknamed “Doc” is preparing to mark the six-month anniversary of Russia’s invasion in a trench.
“You need to be prepared for the fact that this could last a long time,” said Doc, whose owlish eyebrows poked out from under his camouflage helmet.
“There are lots of tears, lots of blood. You cry in your heart,” said the medic, a dental technician in civilian life.
“The history of generations is being destroyed.”
In a subterranean bunker complex, surrounded by rusted tank traps and thronging with stray cats and dogs, his comrades spoon down piping hot bowls of hearty soup.
At the head of the table sits a man with an arm tattoo reading “never give up” in cursive script.
“Six months of war is not only a great grief for the country, it is also a small grief for each person personally,” said 41-year-old soldier Mykola, sitting to his left.
The battalion’s deputy commander Artem, 30, said: “We’ve informed our soldiers that the conflict could drag on for years.”
Russia launched its assault on February 24, attempting to seize the Ukrainian capital in a lightning offensive.
Ukraine’s Independence Day, August 24, will also mark six months since Russia invaded the former Soviet republic, in a devastating war that has cost thousands of lives.
Kyiv’s forces put up stiff resistance, forcing a Russian retreat before the war shifted to the eastern Donbas region.
In recent weeks the focus has moved to southern Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces say they are preparing a counter-offensive.
Asked during a visit to Odessa about hopes for the future, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres closed his eyes, slowed his words, and spoke of a “very difficult situation, where the prospects for peace are not obvious”.
Russia might take the provocative step of putting Ukrainian soldiers on trial as Kyiv marks 31 years of independence for the war-ravaged country next week,
Meanwhile, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky warned, “If this despicable court takes place, if our people are brought into these settings in violation of all agreements, all international rules, there will be abuse.”
“This will be the line beyond which no negotiations are possible.”
A presidential adviser, Mykhaylo Podolyak, said Russia could intensify its bombing campaign.
Kyiv authorities have banned public gatherings from August 22 to August 25. AFP
- Tags: Russia-Ukraine crisis